What did you think when I told you
that he pushed aside my child's size 4 underwear
in order to plunge his man's size 9 hand into me?
Were you humming to yourself,
distracted by the ingredients to
some cake you were about to bake?
How long did you study on the facts
before you pushed them to the back
of your mind,
"I wish I didn't know that."
Did you think I would relent some day
and allow you to talk of him in chipper voice
as my daughter and I sat at your table
eating bowls of ice cream?
And when she had grown to a woman
and you did speak of him in pretty tones,
did you know she would shake her head
and hold me as I cried,
apologizing to me as though
she were the mommy?
How many miles have you traveled with him
in the same car on trips to see relatives
whose own little girls were in danger of his
special kind of love?
What in the hell were you thinking?
Did the years you spent letting Daddy
rain terror down on our heads
inure you to the pain in my guts
as I told you your brother is a child molester?
Because for the life of me,
for the very sanity of me,
I cannot imagine doing the same.
I want to be your little girl,
but you make it difficult
to shell peas on your porch
or make coffee in your kitchen
knowing you may one day go too far
and, against my one rule,
bring him face to face with me.
I have tummy aches at holidays
knowing you will let slip bits of information
like other mothers drop hints
So instead of the safety of your arms
I seek the voice of those who have
their own Uncle Mike
or have struggled under a gag
as a stranger has laid them bare
because when I listen, it goes like this...
First, I say I am sorry that this has happened.
Then I tell her that she didn't deserve it,
no matter what,
no matter where,
no matter who.
And I smile a little,
because it is not funny,
but no one deserves to see a frowning face
when they tell you about their rape.
I hold out my hand sometimes
for the ones who aren't about to jump
out of their skins.
Sometimes they take it.
I listen. I murmur soft words to them.
I don't bawl my eyes out,
because it is not about me,
but I don't try to hide the tears
that gather in the corners of my eyes.
I tell them the process is slow
That she will heal and be fine
or have lingering fear.
I make no promises I am not ready to keep.
I play by her rules.
It gives her back
When I am the advocate for a victim,
she need never wonder if I will wait
until she is distracted
to offer her a second helping of pain
instead of a tissue.